Opening just one day per month is one way to build demand for a budding bakery business, but success isn't ultimately possible without offering quality. Rachael Coyle, former pastry chef at Seattle's Le Pichet, serves up such quality at her monthly pop-up Coyle's Bakeshop. Coyle is currently the culinary director of the Book Larder, where food-loving Seattleites flock for books, readings, cooking demonstrations, and classes. It's also the location of the pop-up, which happens on the first Saturday of the month.
If you're lucky enough to be at the front of the line—we which recommend as the selection runs out pretty quickly—you'll find the store's demonstration table filled with a carefully curated selection of Coyle's pastries, cakes, homemade marshmallows, sticky toffee pudding, salted caramels, and other sweet treats. (There's also a savory selection or two.)
Coyle's Bakeshop has plain croissants, but if they're available, go for the Cherry-Almond Croissants ($3.25). The same croissant dough is layered with almond cream and sour cherries, which give the pastry a blast of tart fruit flavor. The crispy pastry has an extra crunchy texture thanks to a sprinkling of toasted almond slivers soaked in a light almond-citrus syrup.
Fresh Strawberry, Passion Fruit Meringue, and Apricot-Almond tarts were all available and all tempting. I chose the latter ($6.00)—it's filled with apricots and almond cream. The sweet and slightly tart flavor of the fruit is emboldened by a glaze of apricot and vanilla bean preserves. I enjoyed the filling, though the pâte sucrée perhaps needed salt to bring out some sweetness in the otherwise nicely crumbly tart shell.
The Pistachio Praline Cream Puff ($1.50)—which Coyle says is inspired in part by the classic French wedding cake called croquembuche in which choux pastry balls are bound with caramel and built into a tower—is a two-pronged attack on pistachios. First, it's filled with a pastry cream laced with homemade pistachio butter, then it's topped with chopped pistachios pieces. But before those pistachio pieces are added, the cream puff is dipped in caramel, which hardens up to give the pastry a glass-like crunchiness. This delicate dessert is one you'll want to eat as quickly as possible after production to appreciate the textures and temperatures. In the future, when Coyle transitions her Bakeshop from pop-up to brick-and-mortar, I'd love to have these puffs made to order if possible.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.